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States agree to reform TV licence fees

DDP/The Local · 10 Jun 2010, 09:44

Published: 10 Jun 2010 08:50 GMT+02:00
Updated: 10 Jun 2010 09:44 GMT+02:00

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The previous system, which required fees for each television set or radio, will be reformed to a flat household rate of €17.98 per month, head of the federal states’ broadcasting commission and Rhineland-Palatinate premier Kurt Beck told reporters on Wednesday evening.

Fees for businesses will be graduated depending on their size.

If all goes according to plan, the states will sign an official agreement in December, and the new rule would go into effect on January 1, 2013, he said, calling the decision a “milestone.”

The Cologne-based GEZ stands for the mouthful Gebühreneinzugszentrale der öffentlich-rechtlichen Rundfunkanstalten in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, or “Fee-collection Centre of Public Broadcasting Institutions in the Federal Republic of Germany.”

The organisation requires a licence of some 42.5 million owners of televisions, radios and, for the past few years, even computers and mobile phones that access the internet. The fee money funds public broadcasters such as ARD and ZDF, and is often collected by plainclothes officials who go door-to-door busting fee-shirkers.

It’s a difficult task for the organisation’s 1,100 employees, and consumers frequently bring cases against the GEZ to court.

But now there will be a “significant simplification,” relieving families of high fees, Beck said. He also said that while he did not expect complete restructuring within the GEZ, the fee simplification would reduce internal costs.

Baden-Württemberg state premier Stefan Mappus told journalists the new model is simpler, fairer and more transparent.

He said the reform was necessary because televisions and radios are no longer the only relevant devices for using public broadcasting services. Now each household will pay one fee regardless of how many devices it owns, including those that have none. But Mappus said it was likely there were very few device-free households in Germany.

Public broadcasters welcomed the reform.

ARD head Peter Boudgoust said in a statement that the new system would make things “easier and more comprehensible.”

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Radio broadcaster Deutschlandradio director Willi Steul said in a statement that the model will create a chance to “raise the acceptance of the broadcaster fee.”

But the pro-business Free Democrats, who had advocated fees for individuals instead of households, were critical of the reform.

The party’s parliamentary group speaker on media Burkhardt Müller-Sönksen said it would endanger jobs and was and “ineffectual development of the current GEZ fees.”

DDP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

09:52 June 10, 2010 by chimpansi
Hey its still the same amount, 17.98EUR per month. Does the govt think we are idiots?
10:32 June 10, 2010 by dcgi
I still can't comprehend that they think €17.98/month for a few crappy channels is good value, in the UK you pay the equivalent of £9/month for freeview which has 30 channels I think and in digital/HD if you want.

What a bunch of crap.
10:46 June 10, 2010 by MaKo
Brilliant. I don't have a television, as I don't think it's worth the expense. But soon, I'll have the expense. What sort of "milestone" is that?
10:48 June 10, 2010 by Clapoti
It is definitely too high... they should just remove that DVB-T signal for free and encrypt it, charge the providers which would charge the customer who use the service.

I don't watch crap German tv and don't listen to the radio either, why do I have to pay for it.

The idea to make people pay because they could watch tv is ridiculous, make the people who watch tv pay.

Milestone my ass too.
11:19 June 10, 2010 by cobalisk
Well, when we are all watching the world cup for free via ARD or ZDF then maybe you will remember why public TV is useful. I for one certainly enjoyed all the free Olympic coverage. Of course public broadcasting must be paid for somehow, this system is certainly more equitable because it is a social good and whether someone uses it or not the society foots the bill.

The existing system merely illustrates how people will always take advantage of public service when give the chance and that honest citizens were carrying all the dishonest ones. This new scheme greatly reduces the disparity and is a good move.

If you don't like public TV then don't watch it, but there is no reason to despise the platform, it is very useful and provides much.
12:16 June 10, 2010 by alleindalone
"Well, when we are all watching the world cup"

All? ALL?! :oD Don't joke yourself.
12:22 June 10, 2010 by Clapoti
First, I will certainly not watch the World Cup and second, I'm not against paying for a service I use... but I don't use this service. Like I said before, just encrypt the DVB-T signal and make people pay a subscription to get the channels, then you'll get the money from there. Not just taxing everybody, even the people not using this service.
13:05 June 10, 2010 by The-ex-pat
Now each household will pay one fee regardless of how many devices it owns, '###including those that have none####

Only in Germany!!

One good thing, each house will be charged. Maybe it will stop them hounding me, I get letters and visits two or three times a year. The letters are the best, they will not believe that I do not live with my parents (löl) I do not own a computer, TV, car, radio or handy. It is all in my wife's name. They cannot get their collective heads around the idea.
14:04 June 10, 2010 by JohnnesKönig
SNFU!!! The rich who may have several TVs and multiple computers and so on, get the advantage. I have no desire to sit and be dumb down with TV...

I think it will be only a mater of time before the Volk rise up against these things!
15:34 June 10, 2010 by Bushdiver
You didn't really think they were going to give the average person a break here did you. Germans raarely rise up to bitch about anything that has to do with taxes. They just bend over and take it up the brown round. There is no need for any kind of TV tax or other media tax even if you can watch the Olympics or WM for free. ARD & ZDF can very well survive like private stations do. I agree with encrypt the channels and if people are in such dire need to watch these two programs they can purchase a subscription. The only one that bebefits from this is the Government. Now they can cut the 1000 or so GEZ Spy Jobs and plain out just rob everyone. I guess they will soon come up with some kind of tax if you have to take a leak or crap. This goverment sucks!
16:34 June 10, 2010 by moistvelvet
@ The-ex-pat, so your logical reason for not paying the fee is because it is in your wife's name? Mrs ex-pat? Wow, that is a brilliant and genius idea, I'll try the same thought process when I next take the wife out for a meal, I'll give her my wallet and get her to pay - Woohoo a free meal... DOH! :-D

And who on earth tells the GEZ exactly how many devices they really have. The new flat fee gets my vote but I agree that the cost is too high for what is actually produced (compared to what the BBC offer for less)

And for those complaining and insisting you shouldn't pay, it is a public service broadcast available to everyone whether they use it or not, isn't it ironic that you choose to complain via a means that allows you to use it (that's internet ex-pat :-p)
16:45 June 10, 2010 by Clapoti
@moistvelvet... the GEZ wants you to pay if you have a computer connected to the Internet because you can watch some of ARD, ZDF... programs online. Not just because it's the Internet. I already pay for my internet subscription, that' already expensive enough. I also pay the GEZ... 18 euros per month for what? nothing, just for the peace of mind that they cannot prosecute me because they cannot steal my money freely.

There is no other way to call it than a daylight robbery.
20:01 June 10, 2010 by Bushdiver
@ chimpansi ... That's exactly what the government thinks! This is no overhaul whatsoever. I'll still wind up paying the same amount for the same crap programs that I don't even watch. It makes you wonder why there is even a need for goverment at all. These overpaid idiots that come up with some of the dumbest ideas and get the rest to agree on it. Time to replace all these morons.
20:35 June 10, 2010 by Tonseventyone
What a bunch of crap. Just another tactic to screw over people. Just goes to show the government can't compete in an open market, when the Germans get thier hands on a tax they will never let go and everyone follows along like idiots.

What ever - They take 50% of what I earn anyways - what the hell is 17 euros more a month. I really should stop reading the news, it's not worth it.
00:22 June 11, 2010 by The-ex-pat
16:34 June 10, 2010 by moistvelvet

@ The-ex-pat, so your logical reason for not paying the fee is because it is in your wife's name? Mrs ex-pat? Wow, that is a brilliant and genius idea, I'll try the same thought process when I next take the wife out for a meal, I'll give her my wallet and get her to pay - Woohoo a free meal... DOH! :-D

moistvelvet, so you and your wife both pay GEZ for the single TV in your front room or are you just being obtuse??
07:42 June 11, 2010 by Clapoti
The letter drafting idea wasn't bad... not sure we would have results, but we could have a TT complain letter about those fees, how they are unjust, too high, etc. Who wants to draft up a letter ;)
13:25 June 13, 2010 by JohnnesKönig
Germans wont protest?!?! Is that why 2 Polizei were hurt? NOT protesting???
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